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A CHILD’S MACHIAVELLI by Claudia Hart was initially written and illustrated by the artist in 1995, inspired by Niccolò Machiavelli’s Renaissance treatise, THE PRINCE, the first book of political philosophy. Hart’s version began as a series of oil paintings and a small catalog, produced by the Realismus Studio, at the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin in 1995.

The catalog was eventually released as an expanded hardcover by Penguin USA in 1998, along with German and French editions.

While keeping to the meaning of the original, Hart rewrote THE PRINCE, reflecting street values and the voice of youth culture, as if Machiavelli’s book, meant to advise kings on seizing power, was a primer to teach good manners to small children.

In 2019, Beatrice Books, a small experimental publisher, reissued A CHILD’S MACHIAVELLI as a more contemporary book. At that time, Hart discovered among her files a series of Flash animations created for an ebook, the early 21st-century digital format that had long since disappeared, initiated by the production company Flicker Labs in 2010.

In 2022, at the height of the crypto bubble, she realized her old Flash animations could now be opened, so she transformed her technological castaways into NFTs. The animations were narrated by Hart using vocal recordings made in 2010, including sound effects and background music. With that last transformation, she ultimately produced animations that are brutal but true insights, standing as reminders that while technologies may come and go, human frailties remain the same.

"We are obviously in a period of cultural crisis, with the world slipping into autocracies, war in Ukraine, and democracy dramatically destabilising in the USA. Social media is used to spread misinformation and engender fear and terror in order to manipulate the populace. The little mottos that I wrote in the early nineties are more relevant now than ever. They seem to be pointedly directed at the cultural and political world of today. Yet when I wrote them, I felt that I was translating Machiavelli’s early 16th-century text into the politics of that time."

– Claudia Hart, June 2023